We have arrived, finally, at that unenviable period of time for potty training our baby. I suppose that at two years and ten months, he hasn’t been a baby for some time, and that after this, I definitely won’t be able to call him one anymore. Still, he’s my youngest, and in a way, he’ll always be my baby, so I’ll cling to it.
The first few days of potty training involved a lot of juice, a lot of accidents, and a lot of clapping, cheering, celebratory songs, and high fives when we got it right. We also implemented a one-smartie reward for every successful go at the potty. Now that we’re closing out week two, it seems the effect of the smartie has seriously waned. Ayoub is now significantly more interested in the following things than in eating his actual Smartie:
- opening the Smarties package (a plastic container with a pop off lid since it’s a value pack)
- tipping the Smarties package just so, the way he’s seen Mama and Baba do it, to get out a single Smartie
- Playing with said Smartie until it’s turned into crumbs of sugar and chocolate in his hands, and
- closing the Smarties package again
Needless to say, this doesn’t work for me, because while he wants to take care of steps 1, 2, 3, and 4 all by his little lonesome, he can’t execute step 2 for his life without dumping about 10 Smarties into his hand (the one time I let him try, he quickly attempted to shove his treasure straight into his mouth and we had a fight-followed-by-meltdown because I got most of them back). And since he can’t do step 2, I don’t let him try, and so step 3 and 4 are often replaced with crying, screaming, and refusing the single Smartie I do fish out of the package for him because he wants to get his own. Not exactly the positive reinforcement we were going for after all, is it?
Today, after we had gone through part of the fight and he had grudgingly accepted that I give him the Smartie, he proceeded to play with it all over the kitchen floor, which wasn’t going to lead us anywhere good. I warned him once, twice, and then I scooped up the Smartie, popped it into my mouth, and ate it.
Armageddon. The next 10 minutes were probably some of the loudest I’ve heard from him. Oh, the injustice! I went to lie down on the couch and wait him out, and a long time later I found him approaching. Could he be ready to admit the error of his ways? Apologize for not listening to Mama the first two times and hope he’d get another Smartie for promising not to do it again? Even just come over for a comforting hug? Ha! Try none of the above. He stopped half a foot short of me, gathered up every last decibel in his little lungs, and screamed as loud as he could “ANA AAYEZ CHOCOLATAAAAAAAAAAA!!” and then he attacked me with his two little hands, grabbing at my shirt to show me his torment, attempting to turn my head to face him. I looked but I was trying as hard as I could not to laugh (and failing) so it took me a while to answer. “The chocolata is gone, habeeby. Next time if you don’t play with it you can keep it.”
Aside: I know there are those who think I’m a cruel and uncaring parent. To you, I say, try living with a toddler for a bit. If you’ve already done so, remember what it was like when you did. Think how it feels when everything, EVERYTHING, is a fight. Want to give your child a sandwich he REQUESTED? Nope, sorry, gotta fight about first because you’ve offended him by not making it magically appear the second he requested it. Want to safely strap him into his car seat so that you can go play with him somewhere fun? Oh you crazy adult! Don’t you know toddlers like to buckle their own car seats? AND close their doors? AND drive the car? AND operate heavy machinery? When everything is a fight, when everything draws tears and screams and tantrums, you have to laugh about it once in a while, or you’ll go stir crazy. It’s therapy. It’s a way to cope. And if you have a toddler now and you never laugh while they’re crying, I salute you for your incredible empathy, and I think your brain should be studied by scientists for your unbelievable ability to REMAIN CALM UNDER PRESSURE. Seriously.
He calmed down eventually. It took a long time. But the good news is no diapers, and he’ll be 3 soon, and I’m still able to think/talk/write in complete sentences. So maybe we’ll get through this after all.